Review: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1) - Sara Raasch

Release Date: October 14th 2014
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 432
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 5 out of 5

Synopsis: A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Review: Meira is one of the last free soldiers of Winter, her kingdom is broken, it’s magic lost.

Sixteen years ago, Spring conquered Winter, broke it’s magic and enslaved all Winterians. Winter has all but been defeated - except for those few that escaped the night that Spring broke down Winter’s defences and defeated the kingdom. Of the 25 people who escaped that night sixteen years ago only eight survive. And they have vowed to save the enslaved Winterians and restore the kingdom to its power.

Meira is one of those who escaped. She was only an infant when Spring defeated Winter, and although she has no memories of Winter herself, only those that have been passed to her by other escapees, she is determined to restore Winter to its former glory. Meira is desperate to help her kingdom rise again, to prove to Sir that she is a worthy soldier (or worthy in general). And her chance arises when she is sent on a mission to find a part of the ancient locket that will help restore Winter’s magic. She risks everything to get to the locket, including her life, but she must prove herself, she must help free her people, she must help restore her kingdom.

This one brave act changes everything. The time has come for Winter to fight. Many lives have already been lost, and to save Winter many more sacrifices need to be made.

I just don’t know how to review Snow Like Ashes. I am actually finding it really hard to articulate how much I enjoyed this book. If you want the short version - I loved it! Go buy it right now! But for the long rambling version… please read on.

The world building in Snow Like Ashes is phenomenal. I know that some people find world building in fantasy books a little daunting, or even too much, but I am one who likes intricate and descriptive world building, and Sara totally nails it. And I don’t say that lightly, I am rather hard on fantasy books, as it can be a fine line between world building and being bogged down, and sometimes it can even be a little too much for me. But Sara expertly and elegantly developed a whole new world, filled with magic, desperation, betrayal, loyalty, secrets, ice and love.

Our main protagonist Meira is a fierce character. She is determined, headstrong, loyal, insecure, assertive, disconnected, sacrificing, devoted and an all-round awesome heroine. She has spent her whole life believing that she is disposable, but she still yearns for acceptance and recognition from the man who raised her, a Winterian General, Sir. He has kept her safe, he has provided for her, but she desperately wants his love and approval.

She is also in love with her best friend Mather. Mather however is the future king of Winter. I believe that Meira believes she is in love with Mather, but I am not convinced. I believe she loves him, but not in love. Mather is the only male around her age she has ever had contact with, he is her best friend, he is loyal, and caring and supportive. Of course she loves him, and without any other reference, she believes she is in love with him. But, she also knows that he is the future king of Winter, and she is a nobody, so no matter what her feelings are towards him, nothing can ever eventuate between them.

Then enters Theron. The other prince (literally). He is sexy, intellegent, and strong. The situation between Meira and Theron is nothing that she would ever have expected, but she does begin to like Theron. He seems interested in her in a way that no one has ever been, he sees her for who she is, and he accepts her. He doesn’t try to make her decisions for her, he doesn’t try to own her and he doesn’t try to control her. He accepts, and appreciates Meira for all that she is. He lets her be herself, and supports her in her decisions - this is something that Meira has always wanted, but has never really experienced.

Meira goes through so much in Snow Like Ashes. And she is determined to prove her worthiness to Winter, to Sir and to Mather. She is determined to prove that her worthiness is not only being born Winterian, but that she capable of fighting to rebuild Winter. But, the fight to prove her worth does not go exactly how she planned. Meira is thrown into a situation, and even I was screaming “MATHER, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??!!!”. And while Meira is left feeling hurt and betrayed, she is also recognises that there are a lot of other Winterians who are in a worse situation than her. So while she is angry and upset about her situation, she acknowledges that life could be worse, but she still feels entitled to feel the way she does (and I agree). She superbly walks the line between being selfish and selfless - just because she has to be a martyr, it doesn’t mean that she has to like it. I respected that.

Snow Like Ashes is not only filled with great characters and exquisite world-building, but also filled with so many mesmerising scenes. The writing style is poignant at just the right moments to create those heartbreaking moments, and vivid enough that you can visualise this terrible but sometimes beautiful world. The story also develops at a fantastic rate (especially for a first fantasy book). I can’t say I was surprised by certain events within the story, but I certainly loved the ride! It was a roller-coaster of events and emotions. The magic element to Snow Like Ashes is well thought out and the war is more complex than first believed.

Some honourable mentions need to go out to 2 things. First, the cover - Oh. My. God. What a gorgeous cover - I cannot wait to get my hands on the physical copy with all its shimmeriness and awesomeness. And the second, the training yard scene! Not that I am a dirty old perv (okay, maybe I am), but it isn’t often in YA you find yourself in a story filled with hot, sweaty, buff guys - and I did appreciate this visual :)

Snow Like Ashes is an astounding first book for this YA fantasy series, and I cannot wait to read the next instalment. And the ending was perfect! I loved where Sara finished this book, to me it was the perfect spot. It closed of enough for me to be happy but it still left me desperately wanting the next book. No cliffhangers, no happily-ever-after - just a perfect balance between conclusion and unresolved. There is so much left to explore in this world - and I cannot wait to explore it all.

Snow Like Ashes is an intricate story of twists, determination, magic, action, political agenda, hunger, justice, sacrifice, courage, danger and destiny. You need to run out and get this amazing, beautiful, phenomenal book!



“They make decisions; they mold your future. The trick is to find a way to still be you through it all.”

“Someday we will be more than words in the dark.”

“No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.”

“Holding on to some part of your past even if it means also holding on to the pain of never again having it. That pain is less horrible than the pain of forgetting.”

“I know there are things you aren’t telling me. Big things…Sir, I will find out. I only hope your reasoning is good enough for me to forgive you.”

“Even if I die here, I will die mattering, and that’s what I’ve wanted all along, isnt it? and I will, just within my own set parameters-I will matter in ways beyond my comprehension of the word, because I will matter in whatever way my kingdom needs me most. That, I think, is a truer mark of belonging somewhere-being willing to do anything, everything, that needs to be done, regardless of what I want.”


What do you think?

  • Kelly says:

    Hot, sweaty buff guys you say *strokes beard*
    Fantasy novels and I love a love hate relationship. I love fantasy fusions, but pure fantasy, it has to have a kick ass heroine and incredible world building, this sounds like it’s got both. Might grab a Kindle copy and give it a spin. I read on another review about the symbolism of the cover, it represents something… I just can’t remember what that was.

    Nevermind. Awesome review boobs <3
    Kelly recently posted…Pandora Jones: Deception by Barry JonsbergMy Profile

    • Kristy says:

      I knew I had you at the mention of hot, sweaty buff guys :)

      I hope you enjoy it (especially with your love hate relationship with fantasy). And the cover is symbolic for the seasons.. you will understand once you have read it :D


  • I neeeed this. I need it quite exceptionally badly. But see I thought it was dystopian at first (and I’m so burnt out on dystopians) because of that cover. It’s like a circle and everything! SO DYSTOPIAN. But I’m happily wrong and eager if it’s epic fantasy. The characters sound amazing and I so love those quotes. Just afjdskalfds. I’ll bump this up my desperately-need-pile.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #34 || I accidentally ate the library.My Profile

    • Kristy says:

      You do. You really, really do!

      The cover will make perfect sense when you read it, you will forget that it made you think Dystopian.

      (and if it helps you bump it up your list, the book is OMG pretty in real life!)

  • I’m so glad you loved it! I really, really want to read this one. The reviews I am seeing are all positive and fantasy is my favourite genre. At first I was thinking I would wait for this one to come out in paperback and save some money (I’ve only seen it in hardcover) but now I’m thinking I can’t wait that long. Great review, thanks for sharing.
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